The ‘weight’ is almost over – Fat Bear Week starts next week

Fat Bear Week is an annual, single-elimination tournament in which the public votes for which bear they think is the fattest.

If you have never rooted on someone or something to put on a lot of weight, you're not alone. Fat-shaming deems to be quite damaging in today's society. But in this case, bears in the 'Fat Bear' competition will need all the votes they can get as they transcend beyond ordinarily large into the realm of extraordinarily fat. 

Fat Bear Week is an annual, single-elimination tournament in which the public votes for which bear they think is the fattest. Not only are they voting for the thickest creature, but they are also judging it on which bear was most successful. 

"Fat Bear Week is to the natural world what March Madness is to college basketball," says founder Charlie Annenberg Weingarten. "But it is also so much more! Bears arrive in July looking thin and frail. Now, as winter approaches, they are rotund and ready to retire into hibernation. It is a true success story."

If you are having a hard time wrapping your mind around it, think about before and after photos. Most people start with a picture at their heaviest and then post a photo when they've lost weight in their after photo. Now, flip that around, and it's the same … Just with bears. 

Like every other tournament, whatever bear with the most votes will advance to the next round and could soon be crowned champion. The contest will run from September 29 to October 5. 

Why are we rooting for bears to get fat? 

It might seem silly to call it a success story and vote on the fattest bear, but it shows how they will prepare for hibernation.

Bears are currently at the peak of hyperphagia. 

Hyperphagia is when bears are trying to eat whatever they can so that they can pack on the pounds for winter. It usually lasts from late summer to early fall.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife say that bears need 20,000 calories a day to gain enough fat to survive the winter without eating or drinking during hyperphagia.

That's a lot of salmon! 

The CPW also says that bears have noses 100 times more sensitive than humans and can literally smell food five miles away.

In order to continue to get enough calories, some bears have lingered into more local areas to find food as their sources have been dwindling. Many attribute that to the significant drought.

With such powerful noses, CPW officials warn people not to leave trash out or in their vehicles. Bears have recently been found in Colorado and have become aggressive in their pursuit of an easy meal, destroying property, and even getting inside cars. 

So where do we vote? 

Candice Rusch with says that more than 640,000 votes were cast in Fat Bear Week 2020, but the 2021 competition could be even larger.

Last year's winner, known as Bear 747, weighed in at a whopping 1,400 pounds. 

And a new competition this year – the Fat Bear Jr. Vote for your favorite chubby cubby on September 23 and 24. 

All of this will take place at 

Here's the breakdown of events:

  • Browse previous winners in the Hall of Fame on
  • 9/23-9/24: Cast your votes for Fat Bear Jr.!
  • 9/27: See the official FBW Bracket revealed!
  • 9/29: Start casting your votes in the bear-vs-bear matchups for FBW.
  • 9/30- 10/5: Keep coming back daily to cast your votes in every matchup and cheer the competitors on.
  • 10/5: Congratulate the FBW Champion on Fat Bear Tuesday!